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Greek Heroes and Art: Achilles

Noon Lecture/Seminar

Tuesday, May 18, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1H0594
This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
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Achilles during the Trojan War, polychromatic pottery painting, 300 BC

Arguably one of the most famous epic narratives from Classical mythology, the Trojan War was a battle purportedly waged for the possession of the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen. Pitting Greeks against Trojans, this mythic war features countless heroes like Achilles and Odysseus, and it was integral not only to the psyche of the ancient Greeks, but also to the mythical foundations of the ancient Romans.

Art historian Renee Gondek focuses on depictions of a single figure from the Trojan War, Achilles, a man known as the “best of the Achaeans [Greeks].” From the divine portents of his birth, to his anticipated (and completely avoidable) death, and from his time on Skyros disguised as a maiden, to his years at Troy as a hardened warrior, representations and textual accounts of this iconic hero abound. Along with Greek vases and Roman wall paintings, such as the famous Death of Penthesilea by Exekias, Gondek also explores more modern representations of Achilles, like Peter Paul Rubens’ Death of Achilles.

World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1/2 credit*

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*Enrolled participants in the World Art History Certificate Program receive 1/2 elective credit. Not yet enrolled? Learn about the program, its benefits, and how to register here.